ON Monday, the country’s working class commemorated the 115th International Labor Day under the Duterte administration with this wish: End labor contractualization scheme practiced by many of our big and small businesses.
In rallies nationwide, thousands of Filipino workers reminded President Rodrigo Duterte of his campaign promise to put an end to this labor scheme.
But workers are now becoming disenchanted. They told President Duterte in rallies that if he opted to simply follow the footsteps of the past presidents who appeared to have relied much on neo-liberal policies, like contractualization, the labor sector who voted for him will realize that he too is a “stooge to oligarchy similar to (his predecessor) Noynoy Aquino.”
“President Duterte must get his act together really soon. Betraying the working class would mean its withdrawal of support from his administration,” Leody de Guzman, president of labor center Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), firmly stressed in a statement.
It has been a year since President Duterte promised to end the end of contract (endo) scheme, wherein employment contracts are deliberately terminated after six months to avoid payment of social benefits due to regular workers.
But for militant labor groups, this promise seemed to have been made broken. In fact, the government, through the Department of Labor, a line agency tasked to protect the welfare of the Filipino workers, is implementing Department Order (DO) 174 which only prohibits the act of employment agencies to supply workers to perform a job and not contractualization in all forms.
They claimed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello “simply perpetuated” the endo labor scheme by implementing DO 174, which they also claimed a “rehashed and worst version of its predecessor” and Bello’s efforts to project his helplessness in prohibiting contractual employment is equally condemnable. Because of this, labor groups have asked President Duterte to fire Bello.
The Kilusang Mayo Uno reported over 24.4 million contractual workers nationwide who should be regularized. But with DO 174, they have to remain as like the order, the labor sector believes, legalizes the “skewed practice of contractual employment” and will serve as an open invitation for employers as well as manpower agencies “to systematically exploit, infringe the rights and push rhe working class families to further poverty.”
This sentiment aired by the labor sector did not just pass President Duterte’s ears. Listening to their voice, he once again promised Filipino workers that the government has remained committed to protect their basic rights.
In his first Labor Day message delivered at People’s Park in Davao City, the President made promises anew which he vowed to fulfill.
There was no mention of higher pay, but the President reiterated his promise to stop contractualization and went further by asking the labor sector to give him more time.
“I stand firm on my conviction to end endo. The law guarantees all the workers of the rights (including) security of tenure. That has to be strictly enforced,” he said in his message mostly in Bisaya.
As he is committed to pursue this, President Duterte vowed to issue an executive order to review DO 174 at the same time, directing the strict implementation of the existing provisions against endo and labor-only contracting. He also called on the labor sector to submit its own draft of their proposed EO.
“The Department of Labor and Employment shall be able and ready to ensure that every Filipino worker attains decent and productive employment in the promotion of employment opportunities, the development of human resources, maintenance of industrial peace, protection of workers welfare,” he vowed.
Knowing President Duterte’s own brand of governance, he will pull strings and surely stick to this promise, and once achieved, will promote the long-desired industrial peace which basically play a vital role in achieving inclusive growth.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on May 03, 2017.
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